Posted by rdom on December 30, 1997 at 17:10:43:
A Chiapas judge ordered 16 suspects
jailed in the massacre last week of 45 Maya in the village of
Acteal, as another 80 people under immediate death threat in the
same area were given police and military protection.
The 16 suspects, jailed Monday, had been charged Friday with
premeditated murder, causing serious injury, carrying firearms
without a license and criminal association in the December 22
massacre of 21 women, 14 children, nine men and one infant, the
attorney general's office said in a statement.
Overall, 40 people have been detained for questioning. The most
prominent was Jacinto Arias Cruz, mayor of Chenalho township of
which Acteal is a part, who was suspected of providing the killers
More arrests were expected in connection with the five-hour
slaughter of Tzotzil Maya.
Squads of soldiers and judicial police fanned out in Chenalho
Monday to pick up 80 members of 13 local families and move them to
safe houses in the village of Polho, also in Chiapas, the Fray
Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center said.
The rescue mission was ordered on "the certainty that
paramilitary groups were seen roaming in the villages of Puebla and
Yafhjemel" with the intention of targeting Tzotzil Maya sympathizers
of the rebel Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), the center
said in a statement.
The 80 people who were rescued had received death threats from
paramilitary groups in the past 24 hours, the statement added.
Some 4,000 Tzotzil Maya, also fearing further violence, on
Monday left their homes and headed for Polho, which is an EZLN
The rebel group staged an armed uprising in 1994 to demand
better living conditions for the mostly indigenous inhabitants of
Chiapas, Mexico's second-poorest state.
National Human Rights Committee president Mireille Roccatti said
here that the facilities in Polho could not house all the refugees,
addding that another 6,000 could make their way there in the next
Attorney General Jorge Madrazo said that the investigation into
the massacre pointed toward Chiapas state public security officials
and the state's secretary general.
The case could be an embarrassment for the top federal officials
in the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) that has ruled Mexico
since 1929 as Arias Cruz and others suspected in the killing are
But it also revealed a split in the party, where reform-minded
technocrats dominate the federal levels while state officials are
more likely to be fans of the hard-line, old-fashioned PRI.
Madrazo cited a December 21 meeting "by a group of people who
planned the Acteal massacre."
A probe will be carried out to determine "how the group was
created to carry out the massacre, why they wore the same clothing,
why they were uniformed, how they got high-powered weapons," said
"No one will escape us, no matter who we turn up. There will be
no political, economic or social considerations," he pledged.
Some of those being held were arrested as they sought to flee
the region hidden in a truck that was escorted by a state police
Four opposition parties from across the political spectrum have
demanded a special session of congress to strip Chiapas state
officials of their powers and name a provisional government.
After a protest in front of his official residence Sunday,
President Ernesto Zedillo reiterated his pledge to punish to the
fullest extent those reponsible for the bloodbath.
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